By Caoilte de Barra
Kazakhstan’s Yerulan Kabdulov won his first-ever IMMAF gold medal at the 2022 Asian Championships. Previously he had six medals to his name but fell short of gold on a couple of occasions.
His road to gold saw him overcome three tough opponents in as many days. Following his final performance of the competition, Kabdulov explained how the win came as a relief.
“Yes, it was not easy to lose in the final every time. I was waiting for this moment. My goal was to win this gold. Alhamdulillah it happened. I believed that my time would come. When the referee raised my hand, it was very cool. I cannot describe it in words.”
“I think all the fights were good at this Asian Championship. I think experience played a key role. I have enough of it,” he laughed. “I have been performing for many years.”
For years the strawweight division was dominated by Kabdulov’s fellow countryman Bagdat Zhubanysh, who became the first athlete to win three IMMAF world championships.
Since moving on to the pro ranks, the division is wide open for a new contender to emerge, and Kabdulov believes he is the man to step up to the plate.
“Bagdat was good, one of the best in the strawweight division, but now everything has changed, and I think this weight will still be Kazakh weight.”
Kabdulov has been competing internationally since 2018 and has racked up quite a lot of experience. Having been around the IMMAF scene for a long-time, the Kazakhstan team stalwart explained the importance of the competitions for gaining experience and learning.
“IMMAF competitions are, first of all, a good experience, but sometimes something is missing. Some bases need to be worked on, but every competition is important to me, and every competition is a step forward and a new goal.”
Despite years of experience, Kabdulov has no plans of going pro just yet and has his sights fully set on winning the next World Championships, where we will see a new senior strawweight champion crowned.
“The plan is only for the World Championships – I want to win it! Then we will see. At the moment, there is no interest in professional tournaments, and my weight is not popular in promotions. Let’s see, but I want to say – let the strongest win the upcoming World Championships!”